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keeping Israeli sovereignty over a "United Jerusalem" - Sharon wows them in New York (JERUSALEM POST) By Melissa Radler New York 03/23/01)Source: http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2001/03/23/News/News.23434.html JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
NEW YORK (March 23) - Capping off his first visit to the US as prime minister, Ariel Sharon addressed a hotel conference room packed with more than 1,500 supporters Wednesday night at the Sheraton New York.

Sponsored by Israel Bonds and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the midtown Manhattan event brought together Jewish leaders from across the political and religious spectrum as well as top New York City officials, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi of Italy, who has been a vocal supporter of a united Jerusalem under Israeli control, was also present.

In his address, Sharon emphasized Diaspora Jewry´s responsibility toward Israel, including the responsibility of keeping Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the holiest site of Judaism, belongs to all the Jewish people," said Sharon. "Jerusalem belongs to you not less than ourselves. You are obliged to stand and to raise your voices. That is your obligation and you have to speak out about it," he said.

Sharon also talked of his vision of Israel´s future, which he said is based on bringing one million more immigrants to Israel by the year 2020; strengthening Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora; building new communities in "areas of national priority," developing water resources, and continuing economic growth to compete in the global marketplace.

Concerning Israel´s fast-growing hi-tech industry, which has seen $3.2 billion in investments since 1999, Sharon pitched investment opportunities in Israel to those wary of the recent financial instability in the US markets."Maybe now is not the time to say it - I´m sure that the situation here will change, but in any case, try us there," Sharon said, to audience laughter.

Sharon also briefed the audience on his meeting earlier this week with US President George W. Bush, and described a US-Israeli relationship that differs markedly from that during the Clinton-Barak and Clinton-Netanyahu years.

"Altogether, I would say I did not leave anything without an answer," said Sharon. "Things may be accepted [or] may not be accepted, but everyone knows the Israeli position. That will be the way I´m going to conduct our policy in the future. Things should be clear."

One of the issues discussed with Bush was missile defense, and Sharon said that Israel and the US are working together to develop and strengthen mutual defense capabilities and deterrence. Sharon said his support of missile defense stems from the belief that diplomacy must be backed by deterrence.

Sharon also talked about Israel´s new approach to the conflict with the Palestinians, which is based on non-belligerency and a long-term interim agreement.

"More than ever, Israel needs security zones to protect it from the growing dangers in the Middle East, and the Palestinians need contiguity and a better economic future," he said. Sharon added that the road to peace includes the removal of anti-Jewish hatred and incitement from Palestinian media and textbooks.

Also taking the podium was Mayor Giuliani, who presented Sharon with New York memorabilia, including a extra-large New York City jacket, baseball caps for his grandchildren, and an NYPD T-shirt with Hebrew lettering.

"I´m confident [that] with the change of leadership in Israel and the change of leadership in the United States, there´s hope for establishing peace with security, strength and confidence," said Giuliani. In January, Giuliani hosted a press conference in New York´s City Hall in which he expressed support for united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

Conference of Presidents chairman Ronald Lauder, who has been criticized by some Jewish leaders here for publicly advocating for an undivided Jerusalem, called on the Jewish community to unite behind Sharon.

"Never since its founding in 1948 has Israel been in a more difficult position and never has it needed unity more both here and in Israel," said Lauder.

"Let no one fear joining us and publicly proclaiming in the halls of power, at the negotiating table, that Jerusalem is the united, eternal capital of Israel.

Such stipulations don´t threaten peace, they assure it," said Lauder. "I must say that Jerusalem could not be in better hands than with Prime Minister Arik Sharon." (© 1995-2001, The Jerusalem Post - 03/23/01)

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